We asked students "what is it really like?". Here are some of their thoughts…
"I have wanted to be a midwife since I was 21. I am now 39, and after experiencing pregnancy and childbirth, I want to help others experience the same emotions I felt.
I didn't realise I would be putting my life on hold for three years during the training, though. You have to be fully committed to being a midwife, and realise you must be able to adapt your life around the shift work involved. You really have to give it 100 per cent.
There are times when you feel you could just pack it all in, and there are times when you feel that what you are learning bears little resemblance to what is going on in practice. But if you just bear with it, it all ties together in the end. Sheer determination keeps you going.
The feeling of satisfaction as you near the end of the course makes it all worthwhile. Anyone with true determination can do it. I did - even with six children!"
"I had been working as a nursing auxiliary for eight years, and recognised that I liked the job. I'm now a student on the BSc (Hons) Nursing course. It's a bit early to say how I am going to find it, as I have only been a student for eight weeks, but I'm enjoying learning new things and meeting new people.
The prospect of meeting loads of different people and not sitting at a desk all day was what attracted me to nursing in the first place. For me, my auxiliary experience has stood me in good stead, as it gave me a good insight into what I was letting myself in for.
On the downside, if you are used to working hard and fast as an auxiliary, the slower pace of the first few weeks of a nursing course can be a bit frustrating.
But I like to think on my feet and working in a team. Nursing is hard work and tiring, but it's also good fun."
"I saw nurses as highly motivated professionals delivering high standards of care. I wanted to be part of that.
I had a part-time job as a care assistant in a continuing care ward for the elderly, and wanted to get more knowledge and expertise. I wanted to have a say in the way patients' care was being planned and implemented.
I'm now a diploma student studying mental health nursing, and thoroughly enjoying it, especially the clinical placements. There is a lot of emphasis on theory, with essays and exams and quite a lot of pressure, but I get good support within the course.
If you like a challenge, then go for it."
"I wanted a job that would never be the same from one day to the next. For me, nursing seemed to offer a chance to make a difference.
I think I had a very idealistic view of what nurses did. I thought nurses had dedication, and did their job because they loved it. Taking care of patients - sitting with them, talking to them - was the main focus of the job.
Undoubtedly the best thing is when I form a good rapport with the patients. I can see that what I am doing is making a difference to the way they feel. When the patient and family say "thank you" - the feeling I get in those moments is what keeps me going.
People say to me they want to be a nurse, but couldn't stand the blood and guts. I say you get used to those things, and it's only one small part of the job. It's really nothing like you expect. Nothing can really prepare you for it, especially working on the wards. It's a whole new world - weird, interesting and exciting, but also a bit scary and intimidating.
There are times when all you want to do is scream. But there are plenty of good points, too. If it's what you really want to do, you'll succeed."